Every time a statistician uses 'average' or 'chances are' in a sentence, God kills a kitten.
Think of the kittens!
I am at a complete loss to understand why taking an important step in Earth's defense that could only be accomplished by its most intelligent species is only able to raise a sorry-ass-monkey-fuck $5,898 from 111 people in 11 days.
And now I am being told I should embrace some gambler's fallacy of 'non-imminence' (on average! we think!) and ratchet down my whimpering terror and boost complacency until I am a well-adjusted individual.
Statisticians and writers sometimes take inappropriate liberties when presenting probabilities. This is natural because finding joy in figuring things out is one of our finest traits. The reason for choosing any particular angle to present a result can be "because it would be fun to think of it that way". Or as in articles like this, to allay what is perceived as a generally unfounded or disproportionate amount of fear. Addressing these fears directly is invaluable because they can traumatize children, and have even been known to swing adults into voting Republican --- or Democrat!
For preventable global existential threats, is it 'OK' to play the stats game by the same rules as for other non-global or non-existential threats? Is it even ethical? That word bites doesn't it.
Isn't there some kind of 'division by zero' thrown exception thing that applies when we're talking about extinction events? As a species, aren't we clever enough to invent one if it does not exist?
Not all statistics are actionable.
And not all science articles are fit for children.
[TA ] Human beings haven't been around on Earth forever. [...] Chances are, we're not going to be around forever, either. It's only a question of how and when we're going to go out.
That's it, kids --- it's nature's way. Go gently into the Good Night when your time is come, as a species. "That no life lives for ever; That dead men rise up never; That even the weariest river Winds somewhere safe to sea." If this some sort of foundation argument, then what is being built?
We are the species who invented "forever". We are not bound by it because its definition is not yet complete. By what ever objective scientific time scale that can be derived from any present theory of The End, you must try to factor an important unknown: the effect future human insight and due diligence may bring to bear on the problem of survival. If you have trouble believing this as I do, join the club. I won't.
I've already said my piece about those poor 100 people who died from asteroids last year (on average! we think!).
All in all, a great article, well researched and compellingly written. But the why of it really sucks. How did that happen? Are there hungry insurance salesman lurking nearby worried that the sorry-ass-monkey-fuck $5,898 from 111 people in 11 days will eat into their commissions?
Don't sell out that ultimate future by falling prey to an extinction event that could happen tomorrow. The way things stand it may be at least ten years before a viable mission is ready to go IF we start today. Let us hope it's ten years of good luck.